Manufacturers increasingly utilize industrial radiography (IR) to gain more visibility into their products before putting them on the market. Let’s take a closer look at why manufacturing leaders should invest more into this technology if they already use it or strongly consider making it a part of their processes for the first time.
Complement Other Advanced Technologies With Radiography
The manufacturing industry has gone through substantial changes in a relatively short period. That’s primarily due to how leaders have adapted by using innovative technologies, such as Internet of Things (IoT) sensors.
Those connected sensors allow people to remotely monitor factories, improve maintenance and more. Many decision-makers realized making their facilities more advanced was a vital way to stay competitive in a challenging marketplace. Some companies also use other options, such as artificial intelligence. Once a factory already has an IoT sensor network and monitoring system, it’s often not difficult to convince leaders to ramp up their investments in industrial radiography, too.
Factory improvements often occur in stages, depending on resources and goals. Since IR is already a widely used technology in manufacturing, people should be more open to using it — at least compared to a lesser-known or accepted option.
Improve Quality Control Efforts
A strong quality control program is essential in helping manufacturers avoid product recalls, inconsistencies and other issues that could harm a brand’s reputation and make people consider shopping elsewhere. Radiography is not the only component of quality assurance, but it can become a significant component in the overall efforts.
For example, people can use an X-ray system to detect the presence and type of contaminants in food coming off an assembly line. Many people mistakenly think it can only recognize metal pieces. However, radiologic technology is advanced enough to find everything from wood and stone to plastic gaskets and glass pieces.
It’s also a non-destructive option, meaning it stops companies from unnecessarily wasting materials while minimizing inspection-related downtime. Company leaders also use X-ray technology within quality control because they know it can detect things humans may miss — even beyond foreign objects. For example, scanning a container with an X-ray could show that the package has a torn or broken area, making it unsafe to sell. Similarly, people could detect instances of products not filled to the proper level with this method.
Maintain Factory Productivity
Radiography has come a long way over the years. Anyone familiar with its use in the medical field knows conventional applications require using a special film that reacts to exposure from the radiation. However, technological progress has digitized the method, making the use of a film no longer necessary. People see the images on computer screens, allowing faster interpretation and less overall waiting time.
There’s also a digital method where individuals get real-time results. It involves radiation beams interacting with a phosphor screen or a flat panel detector equipped with microelectronic sensors. If a larger amount of radiation reaches the panel, brighter spots appear in the resulting image. That typically occurs when using X-rays to check thinner or less-dense parts. People can also store these digital images in the cloud, supporting other cloud-based manufacturing applications.
Ongoing research may allow people to use radiographic methods even faster than current methods allow. Consider how an MIT team created an augmented reality (AR) headset that uses radio frequency signals and gives wearers X-ray vision. The system interacts with products containing radio frequency identification tags. Experiments showed the headset could locate objects buried an average of 9.8 centimeters buried under a box’s surface level or placed on a cluttered shelf. It also found the products with 96% accuracy.
Verify Measurements With Industrial Radiography
When people think about the vast array of products made inside today’s manufacturing facilities, it’s easy to understand why many companies need processes that compare finished components with precise specifications. If a product that gets used in a car, plane or spacecraft gets shipped to a customer without someone checking that it has the right dimensions, it’s easy to imagine the potentially catastrophic results.
One lesser-known way to use radiography technology in manufacturing is to apply it to complement metrology devices that check a part’s measurements before shipments leave the factory. It’s always best to detect issues internally instead of customers finding and reporting problems. Measurement-verification techniques make that possible. Consider these efforts as occurring within a larger quality control umbrella. However, manufacturers often have teams or departments dedicated to metrology. They also keep detailed records to determine when and why parts don’t meet specifications.
IR helps companies check measurements quickly so manufacturers don’t slow processes too much and create bottlenecks. More specifically, a branch of IR called X-ray computed tomography is a non-contact measurement technology that checks the dimensional measurements of industrial components. It’s another non-destructive option, further increasing its attractiveness in the manufacturing realm. It’s also common for manufacturers to test every product rather than extracting a sample from a batch.
How Will a Company Use Radiography Technology?
These examples show why today’s manufacturers must strongly consider implementing radiologic technologies into their existing processes to keep pace with competitors and meet customers’ quality expectations.
If company leaders are thinking about doing the same, they should ponder how radiography could help an organization meet goals or address known shortcomings. It’s also necessary to decide how much the business will spend on the technology and how soon it’ll get Bear in mind that employees might need time to adjust to using the technology in their workflows. Once decision-makers iron out these specifics, bringing such checks into an enterprise’s processes will be much easier.